University of Kentucky physician and Pike County native Baretta Casey, right, has spent most of her career providing health care and education throughout the state, with a focus on Appalachian Kentucky. The health disparities between Eastern Kentucky and the rest of the state, especially high rates of cancer, are of "special concern" to Casey, reports Ann Blackford of UKNow.
Cancer is prevalent in her Casey's own family, and this is why she "has taken on the challenge of helping reduce cancer rates in Kentucky, especially cervical cancer and other Human papillomavirus cancers," Blackford reports. Cervical cancer rates are highest in rural and Appalachian Kentucky. According to the Kentucky Cancer Registry from 2005 to 2009, the cervical cancer rate in the region was 9.85 per 100,000 people. The state rate was 8.6. The average of deaths per year in the region from cervical cancer was 258.
"We have the tools to change these high rates and make a real difference in people's lives," Casey said. "I feel the best thing I can do for the people of Eastern Kentucky is to educate about prevention and screening of cervical cancer." Casey became the director of the Cervical Cancer-free Kentucky Initiative at UK's College of Public Health's Rural Cancer Prevention Center in 2010. Through this position, she makes connections with county health departments, community organizations and health advocacy groups that provide education and funding for cervical cancer prevention projects.
"Casey is passionate about educating people on the importance of vaccinating their children against HPV," Blackford writes. She said she wants people to look past the controversy of vaccinating their children and realize the importance of the vaccine. "The vaccine given for the appropriate reason can save a life," Casey said. (Read more)